The Government Accountability Office reports millions of U.S. workers left unemployed by the pandemic have been denied the full jobless benefits they’re owed, with a majority of states paying out the minimum benefit instead of a higher amount based on workers’ prior earnings. The GAO also found weekly Labor Department unemployment figures — which reached historic highs in 2020 — have significantly undercounted the number of people put out of work.
New research finds more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases and nearly 11,000 deaths resulted from evictions, after many states allowed eviction moratoriums to expire over the summer. Emergency room physician Dr. Jason Wilson tweeted in response, “Stable housing is even more important than wearing a mask. Getting out of this pandemic means following all the CDC guidelines — including the one about not evicting people during a global pandemic.”
Wisconsin and Arizona have formally certified Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump, dealing the latest blow to Trump’s quest to overturn the results of the 2020 election. On Monday, Trump campaign lawyer Joseph diGenova said former U.S. cybersecurity chief Chris Krebs — who was fired by Trump after he called the 2020 election the most secure election in American history — should be put to death. DiGenova was speaking on the Howie Carr talk radio show.
Joe diGenova: “That guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered, taken out at dawn and shot.”
The New York Times and Washington Post are reporting the Trump campaign has raised as much as $170 million since Election Day by appealing to supporters for help with legal challenges. Much of the money will reportedly go into an account for the president to use on future political activities — or even on himself. One Trump donor, North Carolina businessman Fredric Eshelman, has sued the campaign to recover his $2.5 million donation, citing “disappointing results.”
President Trump continues to lash out at top Republicans who refused to back his claims of election fraud. On Monday, Trump demanded Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp “overrule” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s certification of Biden’s win, calling Kemp “hapless.” Trump also attacked Arizona’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey Monday, saying he had “betrayed the people of Arizona” by certifying Joe Biden’s win.
This comes as Arizona Democratic Senator-elect Mark Kelly, who defeated Republican incumbent Martha McSally, is set to be sworn in on Wednesday. His victory means the Senate’s balance of power will be decided in Georgia’s twin runoff elections scheduled for January 5, when Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will face challengers Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. Some Georgia Republicans have raised fears that Trump’s attacks could suppress Republican voter turnout, leading to a Democratic-controlled Senate.
Schools in Baltimore County, Maryland, are closed for a second day after a ransomware attack shut down much of the school district’s computer network. Authorities have revealed few details on what was compromised or if the attacker made any demands. This comes as The New York Times reveals hospitals and other medical institutions are coming under an increasing wave of cyberattacks. A recent attack on the University of Vermont Health Network took down the electronic medical record system for nearly a month, disrupting care for chemotherapy patients and others.
A federal court in New York has ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to bring immigrants in front of a judge within 10 days of being apprehended. New York immigration rights activists celebrated Monday’s ruling, saying it will protect immigrants’ due process rights, as ICE can no longer subject them to indefinite detention before hearings related to their case. The ruling only affects New York.
In Guatemala, Indigenous leaders and thousands of protesters took to the streets of the western region of Sololá Monday as anti-government actions continued across the country for the second week. Protesters blocked a major highway and surrounding roads for hours. This comes as indignation continues to mount over the government’s response to the pandemic and two back-to-back hurricanes, Eta and Iota, which displaced hundreds of thousands of people last month. Many protesters are calling for President Alejandro Giammattei to resign.
Protester: “He’s causing great harm to society, and that’s why we demand the resignation of Alejandro Giammattei. Get out, Giammattei!”
Thousands of people also led a protest in Guatemala City Saturday, with vows to continue mobilizations until President Giammattei and other government officials step down.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International is condemning the excessive use of force by Guatemalan police against protesters and journalists at a massive action last month triggered by a now-retracted budget passed by Congress which proposed cuts to health and education.
In news from Capitol Hill, a number of major corporations, including Apple, Nike and Coca-Cola, are opposing a bill to ban goods made using forced labor by Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in China’s Xinjiang region. The House passed the legislation 406 to 3, but the Senate has not yet voted. A congressional report earlier this year found many corporations have directly or indirectly relied on forced labor in Xinjiang, including Adidas, Calvin Klein, Campbell Soup, Costco, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike and Patagonia.
French politicians have announced they will totally rewrite a controversial new security bill after weeks of nationwide protests. The proposed law would have banned the publication of images of police officers and increased police powers. On Monday, four French police officers were charged with assaulting Black music producer Michel Zecler while hurling racial epithets at him. Video of the incident went viral at a time when many in France feared the proposed security law would be used to cover up future cases of police brutality.
In environmental news, the Brazilian government has confirmed over 2.7 million acres of the Amazon rainforest were destroyed over the past year — the largest amount in 12 years. Deforestation has surged under the right-wing presidency of Jair Bolsonaro. Scientists say preserving the Amazon is crucial in addressing the climate crisis.
Construction is set to begin on the new Enbridge Line 3 pipeline after the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approved the final needed permit on Monday. The controversial proposed pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to a terminal in Wisconsin, cutting through Indigenous territory in Minnesota and running under more than 200 streams. Indigenous groups have been fighting the project for years.
The winners of the 2020 prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize have been announced. Among this year’s winners are Kristal Ambrose from the Bahamas, who pressured the government to ban single-use plastic bags, cutlery and straws, and Styrofoam containers and cups; Chibeze Ezekiel from Ghana, the national coordinator of 350 Ghana Reducing Our Carbon, who also works with Ghana’s youth climate activists; Nemonte Nenquimo, an Indigenous leader in the Ecuadorian Amazon who led legal action against oil extraction in the region; and Leydy Pech, an Indigenous Maya woman from Hopelchén, Mexico, who promotes sustainable development practices for Mayan communities.
Pech is also a beekeeper, protecting a rare native bee species. This is Pech speaking at this year’s Goldman virtual ceremony.
Leydy Pech: “The prize gives me the opportunity to tell the world that the lands of the Indigenous peoples are being stripped away by the imposition of mega extraction projects, agro industry, tourism and others, that strengthen a model of capitalism that threatens natural resources and our way of life.”